In the Windows Operating System, the Task Manager shows you all the programs, processes, and services running on your computer. It will also monitor your computer's performance including CPU, System memory (RAM), Hard Drive, and Network usage.
You can get to the Task Manager utility by using one of the following methods:
1. Press CTRL, ALT, and DELETE together on your keyboard, click 'Start Task Manager'.
2. Press CTRL, SHIFT, and ESCAPE together on your keyboard.
3. Right-click on the Task bar and select 'Task Manager'.
At the top of the Task Manager window you will see the following tabs:
Applications, Processes, Services, Performance, Networking, and Users.
If you click on the Applications tab then it will show you a list of all the programs (applications) that are currently running on your computer. It will also tell you the status of the program ie 'running' or 'not responding'.
If a program on your computer is not responding, which may also stop you from working on your computer, then you can open Task Manager, select the Applications Tab, find the unresponsive program, right-click on it and select 'End Task'. This will close down the program and allow your computer to function normally again.
In Applications you can also right-click on a program and select 'Go to Process' which will show you the associated process in the Processes tab.
Clicking on the Processes tab shows you a list of all the processes currently running on your computer.
A program ( or application) is composed of several processes, and a program ( or application) resides on disk storage while a process resides in memory and is the executing instance of a program.
If you right-click on a process then you have the option to 'End Process', or select 'Properties' to get a description and see the location of the file, or 'Open File Location' to be taken to the file etc.
If your computer is very slow and seems to be busy doing something then you can open Task Manager, select the Processes Tab, click on 'CPU' which will list all the processes depending on how much CPU usage is being used. Right-click on the process and select 'End Process' to fix your computer.
If you click on the Services tab then it will show you a list of services currently running on your computer. A service is a program (or application) that runs in the background and has no user interface. They provide core operating system features such as Web serving, event logging, file serving, printing or error reporting.
Windows Task Manager will show you the status of each of the services which are either 'stopped' or 'running', and you can right-click on a service to stop or run the service.
The Performance tab shows you the current CPU and System Memory (RAM) usage. You can also click on 'Resource Monitor' to view detailed information on CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network usage.
'Physical Memory (MB)' shows you how much 'Total' System Memory (RAM) is installed on your computer. 'Cached' refers to the amount of physical memory used recently for system resources. 'Available' is the amount of memory that's immediately available for use by processes, drivers, or the operating system. 'Free' is the amount of memory that is currently unused.
Under Kernel Memory (MB), Paged refers to the amount of virtual memory being used by the core part of Windows, called the kernel. Non-paged is the amount of RAM memory used by the kernel.
The Networking tab shows the current network usage of your internet connection and/or local area network.
The Users tab lists all the users currently logged into your computer. Users can be disconnected or logged off by right-clicking on the user name.
Microsoft Windows 8 has a slightly different 'Task Manager' which also includes a 'Start-up' tab which lists all the programs that start when your computer boots up. Some of these programs can be disabled to improve boot times. There is also an 'App history' tab which shows how many resources (Network & CPU) a program has used which is useful for Windows 8 laptops or tablets that have a limited allowance of mobile data each month.